Friday, March 16, 2012

Puppet or Puppet Master?

Who do you aim to please the most?  Who essentially has control of your mouth, your fingertips and your mind or emotions? Who truly pulls your strings? Do you think you're in control?  While we may control the muscles that move our mouths and fingertips, there is an influence in our lives that controls mostly what we say, do and write.  Still don't believe me?

Not too far in the distant past, I sat in a room full of writers and listened as a particular writer read a portion of their work.  I saw the words that had been read caused a plethora of responses, some positive and some negative; some with admiration while others with disgust.  But what was even more clearly observed, was the presence of censorship and political correctness taking hold of mouths and clamping down on fingertips (the inability to write).  The only truth that escaped was a brief flash of facial expressions that revealed what their mouths or fingers refused to acknowledge. This was supposed to be a time when writers presented their work before their peers to receive an honest critique.  Yet, I've rarely ever seen that happen.  I've mostly witnessed false accolades, puffing of pride and disdain with a smile spread with the same tenacity as politicians gearing for a campaign.  While we seek the approval and praise from our fellow artists, there are only few who can handle receiving true and honest critique, and even fewer to can give the same. Many claim to have thick skins, but only few really do.

Also not too far in the distant past, I have sat in room full of Christians and listened to one particular person speak about a particular scripture and their interpretation of the meaning.  Again I could see the different responses by the other Believer’s, some positive and some negative; some with admiration while others with disgust.  Just as clearly as with the writers above, was the presence of censorship and religious political correctness taking hold of mouths.  Yet, their faces revealed the true opinions that refused to escape their lips.  The church is also a place many of us goes to seek the approval and praise of our fellow Believers, yet there are only a few who can handle receiving an honest truth, and even fewer who can give the same.  Offenses are easily made and given in this atmosphere where it should not.

I’ve often struggled with trying to reason out for myself why anyone would easily hand over their freedom of opinion or ability to question the status quo to someone or something else.  While there may be many reasons for doing so, there really isn’t any excuse.  You can lay blame at the feet of politeness, a desire to not offend, being a peacekeeper, not wanting to upset the apple cart, etc.  But, I still believe that the truth is always the best policy, even if it hurts.  I refuse to believe a lie helps anyone for any reason.   Perhaps because for so many years I forced to lie to hide the abuse that went on behind closed doors, lying has left a bitter taste in my mouth.  Perhaps because the only real help I’ve ever received in my life was from people who were brave enough, and cared enough about me, to tell me the truth, especially when it hurt. 

I often come across to many people as being brash and brazenly bold, without much restraint or sympathy.  People are most often offended because I speak my mind, whether in agreement or disagreement.  I’ve been told I come across as cold, unfeeling and judgmental.  It’s not that I don’t show emotion, I just don’t allow my emotions to rule my decisions.  Most often, as a matter of fact, I make my decisions contrary to my emotions, because I know my emotions are just that - emotional responses.  Emotions lie.  Emotions exaggerate. Emotions change. Emotions confuse the truth of matters.  But, don’t mistake me – I have emotions. My feelings get hurt, my pride gets trampled and my heart breaks just like everyone else.  I’m compassionate; I just show my compassion differently than most around me.  I don’t hate people, but I do hate a lot of stupid (mostly selfish) decisions and messes that are made, especially when they made out by emotions. 

My ultimate priority is to be true to myself and the plans I’ve made.  I have a great faith in my God, and through His love for me, I’ve learned to love myself.  That was the hardest lesson I’ve ever had to learn.  In that love, I’ve also learned to respect myself, trust myself and be true to myself and my dreams, and have cut the strings of society that try to control and censor me.  So, when I open my mouth to speak, it is to please the person I’ve become, not to please those around me.  I’m not afraid of someone else’s opinion, critique, acceptance, rejection, understanding or support; only my own. At the end of all things, we all stand alone.   Therefore, I’m free to speak – knowing it’s the Truth that sets me free. 

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

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